Characteristics of the Ozone Pollution and its Health Effects in India
Surface level ozone is one of the important air pollutants. It is formed by the reaction of atmospheric pollutants in the presence of sunlight. The surface ozone shows temporal and spatial variations in the country. The levels are maximum during summer and minimum in monsoon seasons. The levels are maximum during daytime and minimum during night or early morning. In India, surface ozone levels are above the recommended threshold of 8 hour average of 100 μg/m3 for air quality monitoring at various stations. Exposure to high levels of surface ozone causes number of health problems. Short term exposure causes drop in lung function measures and it also affects the lung’s mucociliary function thereby increasing the susceptibility to bacterial infections. With increase in surface ozone levels, there is likelihood of an increase in risk of hospital admissions for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases (COPD) and the number of cardiovascular and respiratory deaths. In children, increase in ozone concentration is associated with increase in hospital admissions and unscheduled asthma medications. The high levels of surface ozone are becoming a threat to people’s health and so surface ozone levels have to be monitored and steps taken to reduce their levels.